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Monologue by Eric S. Kurz

Kurz, Eric S.
Fredican, Nicole
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places
Eric Kurz talks about an incident in college and teaching in Shelby.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Nicole Fredican interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
EK (Eric S. Kurz): My name is Eric Kurz and I have been asked to speak about, uh, a story. One of, uh, one of the most memorable stories that I can think of is, uh, as a young 17 year old boy going off to, uh, college in New York, I was introduced to a new thing called drinking. That drinking, uh, was done by many of my suitemates, roommates, uh, friends, and, uh, I was the only one out of all of them that didn't like to drink or had never even had a sip. And the reason I didn't have a sip was because it didn't interest me. I didn't, I never liked the smell of it, I never liked, uh, what it did to my friends, so I just said I would be the designated driver for all the time. Well, um, eventually, over the months of time, everyone in my dorm knew that I was not the drinking type, uh, not just my friends, but people in the dorm, uh, the resident director, the resident advisors, all those people, uh, including, uh, my family members, my mom and dad, my sister and brother all knew that I didn't drink. And, uh, when, when it came down to things, they knew that it was a good choice and they felt more safe that I was the one driving people around instead of letting them drive. Well, one weekend, uh, my brother came up to visit me and him and my friends said, "Let's drink in the room and have a good time." Well, everyone that drank in the room was, it was probably for about three hours of drinking, yelling, being loud, playing these drinking games. My resident advisor came in and suggested that we go out and, before we get in trouble with the resident director. And knowing that I didn't drink he said, "Eric, I suggest you get every one of these kids out." So, you know, about another half an hour after drinking, my, my brother and one of my friends, uh, ran out of the room with a beer in their hands and the resident director caught them. Well, the funny thing was, the resident director knew my brother from just seeing him there all weekend decided to come to my room. And when he came to my room, he, he had to, uh, do the normal thing of writing, writing people up in the room that had beer in it. And since it was in my room, I got in trouble. And, uh, even though he knew I do not drink, he suggested I go to, um, that I had to pay the penalty, um, it doesn't matter who has the beer, it's where it was, in the room or whose room it was in or who was in that room. So, after many hours of arguing with him and he says he knew that I didn't drink, uh, he suggested that me and my roommate do community service. Well, after about an hour of arguing, my roommate got in trouble, for, um, that was his second offense, so the resident director suggested that next Thursday, the following Thursday, they all go to, uh, Alcoholic Anonymous meeting, uh, on campus, and that's for second time offenders and, uh, they hope will not have, uh, they would not have a problem. So my roommate who was mad at me because they were all my friends, my brother, my, my friends from home, he said, "You're coming to the Alcoholic Anonymous meeting on Thursday night with me." So, I felt bad, so I said, "OK, I'll go with you." And when we went to the meeting, all my, all my friends were already in there, uh, at the meeting and what it was, was a meeting from seven to nine o'clock, and anyone that's familiar with college life is partying starts on Thursday night. So, after this Alcoholic Anonymous or AA meeting, the students usually go to the bar. So it's not really a good situation for, uh, all parties involved. Well, I, I you know, so I went with my roommate in there, and when you have new members at the meeting, they say, "State your name," and you know, "Tell us about yourself." Well, of course, I went first and said, "Hi, my name is Eric Kurz. I'm a, uh, student at Suny Delhi and I have never had a drink in my life." And I was being very honest. And the lady got mad at me and said, "You're in denial," and she would not let me leave 'til I admitted I had a problem. Well, she was gonna, she was gonna, um, have me stay at the meeting and, you know all these things and all my friends were making fun of me saying, "Yeah, you're in denial, you're in denial," at the meeting. Well, it took a phone call to my parents, to tell, that I had to call my parents and say, "You know, mom and dad, they think that I have a problem." And I had to call the resident director, who knew I didn't drink, and tell him that he had to support my case because they were talking about, um, having me going to, uh, ha-, having me go to further meetings. And uh, it was a big uproar and uh, one of the funniest stories because it was a situation where I don't drink and now they're penalizing, or punishing me for drinking. And when I said that I didn't do it, the lady was not going to let me leave. And I was being honest and it was just a funny situation. And, uh, I went to about five of these meetings, just with my roommate and, uh, you know, just, and it was actually a very educational thing because my roommates always had to go and they would tell me stories about it. So the next meeting I went to and finally got it resolved and that, hey, "I'm not an alcoholic and I don't have a drinking problem, I'm just here to support my friend," uh, I learned a lot of little things about it and, uh, you know, and, and to this day, I really don't drink. I had, you know, I've drunken, but I do not, I do not drink on a normal basis. And one of the, uh, the reasons that I, I still feel that it affects my friends, um, I'm trying to be a person that wants to make good decisions and I see on the news and I see, uh, in regular life, I see friends and family, or, uh, or ones that I don't know that are going to get seriously hurt from this. And, and as a soccer coach and as a teacher, I think if I set a good example they, my students, will follow. And if they see me out drinking, or they hear about me drinking, then I am not setting a good example. And I also have a younger sister who, if I set the example, "Yeah, it's OK to drink," then that is another problem. So I really, I, the reason I bring up the story is because, you know, when asked to speak about something, this is a story that is very, um, important to me, it's a, it's one learning experience, and as a person that probably is role model to some of my players or maybe even my sister, I would like to make sure that they know, hey, that if I don't drink and I turned out OK, then you don't have to drink either. And, um, you know, that's the way, that's just how I feel and hopefully that is, that is an example that is set and maybe someone will follow. [Tape interruption]. OK, another story I have is about moving, um, at the age of 22, uh, after graduating from college with an education degree. I decided to move to Shelby, North Carolina from Long Island, uh, New York. And, uh, the reason I had to move was because I could not find a job in New York at the time, and, uh, many other states I, I saw I really didn't like, or they didn't offer what I wanted to teach, so when I went to Shelby, North Carolina I decided that they had a position for me and I went to visit and I saw things I liked and I, and I found a great, uh, chance, to succeed at this position, I decided to take it. And, uh, as the weeks got closer to moving, I started to get a little bit nervous, I was leaving family, I was leaving friends, uh, a place where I had lived my entire life to go to a new situation. I didn't know anyone, but, um, I was looking for a good start to, to get some things, you know, to be for me to be successful. And one of the first steps in being successful for me was getting a job and then, um, you know, making a good impression. And, um, my position is, um, construction teacher at, at the high school and also as boys and girls soccer coach. Well, on my first, um, on the way, the drive down there, uh, I started to really understand a little bit about how from New York to North Carolina is a lot different. I mean, I had always heard about how different it was, but going from one place to the other, I learned that there is a lot of diff-, there is a lot of little things that are different. Um, people will take their time, um, in North Carolina compared to New York. If you stop at a stop sign for too long, you will get honked at or, um, you know, just what people eat. Um, one of the big things in North Carolina is barbeque. In New York, barbeque means a chicken, uh, chicken wings or chicken breast or hamburger or hot dog. So I learned a lot of things as I went. And my first days on the job, I learned one of the biggest things was how I talked compared to the way my students talked. And, uh, it was funny, because the first week, I didn't understand many of my students. They would say something and I would say, "Repeat that." And after a while, they were like, "You didn't hear what I said?" I said, "No, I didn't," or, "I didn't understand what you said." And I said, "Slow down." Or, um, sometimes I'd just try to understand them and try to get a couple of words out of them and then say, "OK, you can go," or, you know, not realizing what they were probably asking, "Can I use the bathroom?" And then when they started leaving for the bathroom, I realized they must have asked to go to the bathroom. And it probably took me a good two or three weeks to really understand, uh, a lot of my kids, uh, for them to get to know my accent and for me to get to know their accent, for me to understand their ways, where they were from, from where I am from. Uh, where I came up, we had a decent, uh, upbringing, where you know, now, um, we had, we always had food on the table, we always had, uh, uh, a roof over our house, our heads, we always had, uh, you know, opportunities, there was, there was never really a time for me to be bored. Well, in North Carolina, many of my kids, you know, they have, they have one parent, or they live with their grandparents. Uh, they have siatua-, different situations that, uh, you know, some teachers will never understand. And, uh, it really gave me, uh, a, a good understanding of what, what I was in for and, uh, it has actually made me a better teacher because now I understand how to be better, uh, how, how to understand these students, you know, "Hey, I know that you have a rough life, I understand that you have a rough life," or I know, you know, "I understand where you are from," you know, "But we still can be friends or that we can still," you know, "Have a common bond." And, you know, and, and it's been three years now and I think I have a good rapport with my students now just because they're just, they just know, "Hey, I'm not a rich person talking to you like you, you don't have any money," or, um, or, "Just because you know, I had this opportunity and you don't, there's nothing different about us. I want to, I want to teach you," you know, "I want to teach you the way that I was brought up and I'm glad to listen to how you were brought up." So, moving to North Carolina in some sense was one of the best moves that I ever made.